Diadora Speed Star K V Men's Shoe Review
- Light feeling
- Lacks toe durability
When we saw that Diadora was coming back to Tennis Warehouse, we couldn't wait to test the Speed Star K V shoes. As soon as we slipped them on our feet we realized that they are some of the most comfortable high performance shoes that we carry. The first thing we noticed was the super plush cushioning, courtesy of Diadora's kangaroo leather, which is designed to be softer, lighter AND stronger than traditional leather. The Speed Star K V shoes continued to impress when we took them to the courts, where they provided a great blend of support and stability with a lightweight feel. As the playtest wore on we began to realize that they aren't the most durable shoes out there, but they sure offer excellent all-around performance. If cushioning is a priority, or you like a very traditional-feeling shoe, then the Speed Star K V is certainly worth a try!
Comfort - Score: 4.7
As soon as we slipped the Speed Star K V onto our feet we knew this was one of the most comfortable shoes on the market. The ultra-soft kangaroo leather uppers offered super plush cushioning all around the foot. "I loved the comfortable feel of these shoes," Chris raved. "Out of the box they felt just a tad snug in length, but quickly opened up to offer a perfect fit. The level of cushioning was spot on, and my feet enjoyed the soft and plush ride. The K-leather uppers felt very soft and comfortable throughout the test. I never had any uncomfortable poking or pinching from any part of the shoe. One of the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn, it just felt like it was built for comfort from heel to toe. Even the tongue of the shoe has better padding than most tennis shoes. I scored these shoes top marks for comfort, and I would highly recommend them if you are seeking a really comfortable tennis shoe."
This shoe reminded Mark of a shoe he wore a good while ago, and he reminisced, "The last natural fiber shoe I wore was the Lendl Supremes from adidas. When I slipped this test shoe on I immediately loved the feel of the kangaroo leather upper, and I noticed that there is also ample room in the toe box area. There doesn't seem to be enough high quality tennis shoes available for players with a wider than average forefoot."
One of the standout features of this shoe for Andy was the comfort. He explained, "These shoes are extremely comfortable, almost slipper-like, right out of the box. The kangaroo leather upper is very soft and cushioned over the top of my foot, while the midsole underneath offers plenty of support and shock absorption. The plush cushioning and comfort of this shoe are among its strengths."
Ventilation - Score: 2.7
The Speed Star K V's breathability did not quite impress our playtest team as much as the comfort did. Andy thought that the soft leather upper didn't provide as much ventilation as some synthetic offerings. He said, "The kangaroo leather upper runs a bit warm and doesn't allow the foot to breathe very well. I didn't find the ventilation of this shoe to be its strong point. My feet got hot, and the shoe retained too much moisture for my liking."
While it didn't really affect his overall feelings about the shoe, Chris didn't find the shoes all that breathable. "They ran a little hot for me," Chris critiqued. "While there are some perforations on the uppers and the tongue of the shoe is mesh, I found too much heat building up inside the shoes. At the end of each hit I was eager to get the shoes off. However, I was never that bothered by the shoes while hitting. I found the shoes comfortable during play, even though I would soak my socks on a long hit. While this would be an issue for me in tournament play with multiple matches in a day, wearing them for an hour hit was just fine."
On the other hand, Mark didn't have any issues with breathability, even when putting the shoes to the test in demanding conditions. He explained, "Although the upper does not use much mesh at all, it does breathe well. I did use the shoe in the desert at the BNP Paribas Open, where it was hot every day. That said, breathability was not its strongest suit."
Arch Support - Score: 4.1
The arch support in the Speed Star K V was never an issue for our testers, and it worked great for each one of them. "The arch height and location were nearly perfect for my foot type," Mark reflected. "The shoes do have a little arch to them."
Chris' high arches felt supported the whole time, which he found to be a noticeable improvement over other Diadora shoes he has worn in the past. He explained, "After break-in, I found the insoles of the shoes molded nicely to the shape of my arches. The midfoot shank is a huge improvement over the last Diadora shoes I wore several years ago. Stiffness through the chassis felt vastly improved, and my arches felt well protected when I was sprinting around the court. The level of support was solid on forward sprints as well as lateral cuts. All in all, I was very happy with the level of arch support and had no issues with discomfort or strain to my arches when wearing these shoes."
Andy also had no complaints. He said, "I felt this shoe had a medium arch support that worked just fine. I wasn't thinking about the arch while on court, which is always a good thing."
Foot Support/Stability - Score: 3.4
The Speed Star K V's soft kangaroo leather upper proved to be strong enough and stable enough to support most of the playtest team. Mark had to do some experimenting with the way he laced his shoes, but once he figured it out he was gliding across the court with confidence. He explained, "Once I used the last lace on the top of the tongue I felt very secure moving in all directions. When I first played in them I didn't use the last lace, and I did experience some unwanted foot slippage. Using the extra lace totally cured that."
Chris also found more than enough support and stability to unlock his top speeds. He said, "The uppers were very soft and comfortable in these shoes. While there was no stiff support pieces to really lock in my feet, I found the level of support to be adequate. The stiffness of the chassis provided sufficient stability, and I never felt the shoe flex too much. Overall, I found the ride to be pretty solid, and I never had any issues with the uppers giving too much. I never felt like I was going to roll an ankle, and the uppers held my feet on top of the midsoles even when I made a quick lateral cut."
The soft uppers didn't give Andy the same kind of confidence moving around the court. He offered, "This is my major issue with the shoe. To start, I felt it fit very low around the ankle, so I constantly felt in danger of rolling an ankle when making an aggressive cut back to the middle of the court. Next, since the upper is so soft, I didn't feel like it was rigid enough to instill confidence when on the run. The uppers are very comfortable, but they just didn't hold my feet well enough. With all of that said, I began to feel more and more confident wearing these shoes as I got used to them."
Overall Sole Durability - Score: 3.3
The durability of the Speed Star K V proved to be about average, and each tester was able to put some sort of noticeable wear on different parts of the outsole. "The shoes held up decently well, but the outsole certainly began to show some decent wear during the playtest," Andy explained. "It started smoothing and began to affect the traction a bit. The area that showed the most wear was on the pivot point underneath the ball of my foot."
Chris' pair was also showing a good amount of wear in a few areas on the outsole by the end of the test. He said, "The outsole material was soft and grippy rather than ultra durable. It lasted me better than most lightweight speed shoes, but not by much. This is definitely a shoe I would wear out before the guarantee period ran out. I saw wear at the pivot point of both shoes and also under the big toe of my right foot. The rest of the outsole was still in great shape at the end of the test. Impressively, the outsoles offered ample traction throughout."
Mark's pair held up for the duration of the test, but he was having some issues toward the rear of the shoe. He explained, "Overall, the Speed Star K V has to be considered a durable shoe (I have around 60 hours of play on my pair). However, the rear portion of the shoe, where the blue outsole is attached to the thin black tread pattern, was coming apart from lateral sliding on a hard court."
Toe Durability - Score: 2.7
The toe area of the Speed Star K V did not hold up well during the test, especially for Chris, our resident toe dragger. He put significantly more wear on the toe than he did on the outsole. He explained, "I wore through the toes of these shoes much faster than I did the outsoles. For me, this was the weak link in the test. The upper material at the toe does little to prevent excessive wear. I tend to drag my left toe when stretching wide to hit a slice backhand, and the toe tip of my left shoe took an absolute beating. I almost wore through the tip of the shoe even though I didn't get to put that many hours on these shoes."
Even Andy, who usually doesn't do too much damage to the tip of the shoe, noticed a lack of protection. He said, "I don't usually wear out shoes in the toe area, but my pair was showing a good amount of wear on the leather portion of the toe. The rubber from the outsole doesn't come up over the toe that far, so the exposed leather on that spot began to wear after dragging my toes on a few backhand slices."
Mark had no issues, saying, "Like I mentioned above, I have about 60 hours of hard play on these shoes and I still have some great play left in them. For a low-to-the-ground shoe, the toe area is reinforced enough to slow down wear without letting the shoe slip on the court excessively."
Traction - Score: 4.4
The traction on the Speed Star K V worked out just fine for our playtesters, and they all felt comfortable with how the shoe gripped the court. They performed perfectly for Mark, who said, "For the surfaces I played on they felt stable and sticky in any direction. Top notch."
Chris felt in total control of how the shoe was gripping. He said, "The level of traction was very solid. I was able to push off aggressively and trust the shoes to give me all the grip I needed for a quick first step. Likewise, the level of traction was impressive when moving laterally. I found I could trust both the amount of grip and the amount of give I was getting from the shoes. I never felt like the outsoles were getting hung up on the surface, and when I wanted to slide into or out of a shot, I could do so in a controlled manner."
Andy found the outsole a little slick, but it worked nicely for his aggressive sliding on the hard courts. He said, "These shoes are on the slippery side, which I don't mind because it allows me to slide on the hard courts easily. Once I grew accustomed to the level of stability the shoe offered I was able to use the softer outsole to move aggressively and effectively around the court."
Weight - Score: 4.3
The weight of the Speed Star K V was a non-factor for our playtesters. "These shoes are middle of the road in terms of weight when compared to other high end shoes," Andy said. "In other words, there's a nice blend of attributes for good all-around performance. It doesn't feel heavy and clunky, yet it still feels substantial enough to offer a lot of cushioning. It's not low-profile or speed-oriented in design, yet you still feel quick with them on your feet."
Sharing similar thoughts was Chris. He offered, "The weight felt pretty much middle of the road for me. I think the flex and overall comfort did a lot to hide any weight in the shoe. The shoes flex right where they are supposed to so the transition from heel to toe felt smooth and fast. When first looking at the shoe it didn't give the impression of a lightweight offering, but once on my feet I found it plenty fast. Considering the general performance of the shoe, I'd say what weight there is has been put to good use."
Mark was also impressed, saying, "For a legitimate sole warranty shoe without the much mesh in the upper, it is definitely on the lighter side. And, it's still durable."
Overall - Score: 4.1
Chris - "I loved the comfort, fit, feel, traction and look of the shoe."
Mark - "The natural fiber upper feels great on the feet right out of the box. Aesthetically, they are top notch for me, and overall my feet never felt beat up after play. The sole warranty is a deal clincher."
Andy - "Ultra soft, plush cushioning all around the foot. I could wear these for hours with no discomfort."
Chris - "Durability at the toe needs to be improved."
Mark - "The Speed Star K Vs were just a bit wide for me. In addition, the rear of the shoe, where the blue portion of the sole attaches to the black tread pattern, showed excessive wear."
Andy - "Too soft for my liking through the upper. They were very comfortable, but they didn't offer the level of support I need."
Comparing this shoe to other shoes they've worn our testers said:
Chris - "I thought the level of comfort was excellent and tough to beat. A Prince T22 has a similar upper feel, but it doesn't feel as strong and stable through the chassis or offer quite the same level of cushioning. The K-leather upper reminded of more classic shoes, so a shoe like the KSwiss Ultrascendor comes to mind."
Mark - "They had about the same toe box room as the Prince T22 or a slightly wider Gel Resolution 5. The Speed Star K V exhibits a somewhat unique feel to a player's foot due to the use of kangaroo leather."
Andy - "They felt similar to the Nike Air Max Cage and New Balance MC 996. They had the soft feel through the upper like the 996, and they rode high off the ground and had a similar fit to the Max Cage."
Playtester Foot Types:
Chris - Narrow width / Medium arch
Mark - Medium width / Medium arch
Andy - Medium width / Low arch
Review date: April 2014. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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